tv Tavis Smiley PBS May 20, 2014 12:00am-12:31am PDT
>> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. tavis: the kidnapping of more than 200 girls in northeastern nigeria has rocked the world's attention to the continuing threat of boko haram and the escalating oppression of women and girls around the world. joining me to talk about this is ofyele sowore and amber khan
women for women international wish for more than 20 years has helped women rebuild their lives in the aftermath of war. i'm delighted to have you both on the program. you, becausewith you just got back from nigeria. i want to start with what happened over the weekend. jonathan and others were called together for a summit. what do we know and what we believe happened in that meeting? isthe threat of boko haram becoming a regional problem. it is trying to create a lawless state between nigeria, chad, and egypt. they are creating this enclave where they can fully operate and do whatever they want to do. for allraining ground
the terrorists in the african region. was called in paris to discuss how to declare full-scale war against boko haram. in terms of action on the ground, we haven't seen anything showing that that determination or the resolution has been implemented yet. tavis: i think most americans now, sadly, we all know the phrase al qaeda. tell me about oh, wrong -- tell me about boko haram, and i wonder if pose any threat to western civilization? >> any terrorist group anywhere in the world with the kind of ideology and manpower that boko capable ofs k -- attacking america. all they needed someone to come over here and make a big statement. that is what they did with the abduction of the 276 girls.
thattract the attention it's got now, and they have been trying to do this, they abducted some tourist in cameroon and got $4 million between the government of france and nigeria. now they have done this, and i can imagine if this does die down, they will want to make a bigger statement. the leader of boko haram fashions himself after bin laden. he can see it from the way releases videos, his mannerisms. he enjoys the kind of attention he gets from the media out there. it makes them want to release more videos. you can see from each of the videos that he change his tactics, he changes his demeanor and attitude about how he wants the world to see him. he wants to look like a bad guy, someone dreaded. this is what boko haram is looking for. one,ey get away with this
they want to take it another notch higher than what they are doing now. tavis: what is the ultimate goal? >> according to them, to create an islamic country. it is to take over nigeria and run it completely to sharia laws. but all of the people we talk to , religious leaders, islamic clerics and intellectuals on the condemns what they are doing. it is just a criminal gang of people who want to do what they want to do to become powerful, in just do what they do regions of pakistan, to become rich and powerful and oppressed women and men and just be dreaded. that is what i think is the ultimate goal.
they said they want to. islamic country where everything is according to the tenets of islam. tavis: how would it be governed? has a veryam sophisticated instruction of government. it is taken by a sharia council. they have soldiers, they have all kinds of groups and all kinds of structure that runs the activity. you can see that from the way they carry out the attacks. there was a day they went to an army barracks. they have been to cameroon to release some of their top commanders. this is not something that people would say it is a ragtag group of militants who are just running wild. video with armored tanks behind him.
they have very sophisticated weapons. when they recruit, they recruit with nothing less than $2000. that is how much they pay their well-trained, top commanders. asks: i've been dying to this question of the right person. where is this money coming from? where are they getting the weapons? >> they started by robbing banks. they would go into banks and they still keep doing that. they started by taking weapons from nigerian soldiers. we have a video on our website which shows how they attack a unit of the nigerian army. according to the soldiers we spoke to on the ground, they and coveredtars 3000 meters. these are the kind of weapons they get. you can imagine when they
kidnapped the prisoners, that made $4 million. that is a lot of money in the hands of a terrorist group as small as boko haram. when they get this money, they trainingit back into their fighters and strengthening their position. they go to somalia for training. it is unlike before when you have the rogue state backing them. they are trying to create their own state and train their own fighters and see where it takes them. say aboutt does it the nation of nigeria, this country that has just moved up on the list of one of the world's economic superpowers, they are ahead of south africa in terms of the size and value of their economy. what does it say about the nation of nigeria and the administration of resident goodluck jonathan that boko haram is siphoning off, stealing
weaponry in cash from the country? the number one problem is leadership. all of the rebuilding of the spokey, the gdp that you up, they have not had impact on the people of nigeria, they have not had impact on providing education and all kinds of services that the government used to provide. if you have read a little bit about boko haram, they started by mobilizing people who were economically disconnected, people who have been cheated out of the $500 billion economy you are hearing about. the multitrillion dollar economy that made it number one and after. those are statistics. they have no impact on the ground. that is why you are seeing for the first time, not only the focus on these girls, they're focusing on the weakness of
leadership. thating on the corruption has taken $500 billion out of nigeria in the last few years, stolen by officials. we cannot stop talking about that. that is how it nigeria's chickens came home to roost, with boko haram. they shut down almost all of our export of petrol and resources, by blowing up pipelines and attacking soldiers and workers. anybody, including a boy scout platoon, can become a major security threat to the kind of leadership you have in nigeria today because it is very weak leadership. it has not had any kind of responsibility to nigerian people. people would not believe today jonathanident goodluck is capable of protecting them. i want to lay some
groundwork here for those who have been covering the story, particularly amber, because of the adoption of these girls, and follow the story that has been covered but people don't know as much about boko haram. let me switch the conversation of these 200tion plus girls. there are many who believe that whatever boko haram had intended, they overplayed their hand when they kidnapped these young girls because the whole world now has taken notice. what do you think of this move by them as a strategy, whatever their intent is? >> that is a really important point to remember. the unanticipated consequence was the mobilization, and i think the way you just described the marginalization and the limited prosperity that
nigerians have been feeling, and the corruption, frankly, as manifested in this way in which the securities and the kidnapping some of were going on, but they were not on this scale. and the magnitude of it i believe has really moved civil organizations to mobilize. it cuts across women and men. men and women together are joining in the streets and mobilizing beyond nigeria. our program where we have graduated over 50,000 women, when i talk to are country directors, what we hear is justice. we have been championing the importance of agitating girls and boys and the inability to feel safe and secure is no longer acceptable. and the galvanized, global voices have strengthened the
and the protests continue. we have civil society groups meeting together, issuing statements. they did that last week on the one month anniversary once again. there was an unanticipated consequence. i think the challenge is going to be how we move on and maintaining that pressure so that these actions cannot take place without consequences. ivis: you said a few things want to follow-up on. what should those actions be, at least on the part of our government? for theaining support rescue efforts by providing assistance is essential. think that right now, we have committed to technical information and surveillance. there are questions about additional resources that may be available, coordinated with other allies who are equally committed to supporting the rescue of the girls. every woman in the united evens senate right now and
some more hawkish people like john mccain, republican from arizona, has suggested we ought to do more. i sense some tuition -- some tension about what they think we should do with what the pentagon thinks we can do. do you sense that as well? >> there are lots of different undercurrents is terms -- in terms of strategy to take not only addressing the need to immediately rescue the girls and what kind of resources are available, but what you're , aking up on is the issue kind of lifts the veil on the important need of investing in education and strategy that we can take today to prevent violence against girls so that these kinds of actions cannot occur without consequence. tavis: but militarily, do you think anything in the very knee future will happen on the part of the u.s.?
don't know that there's going to be the mobilization of support. i think the public will is going to play a pretty good roll in that. you saw that the mobilization and the emergence of the first lady when she held a placard , that wasame of the # powerful and it was a signal. -- it did not happen immediately. that, i'm glad you said because that's the truth. it took a while for president goodluck jonathan to say anything about it. the story is he was at a party in nigeria, hanging out. obama's weeks to say something about this. people did not jump on this thing right away, which raises the question for me of why it took so long for them and for us , and number two, why to your
earlier point that this is happened here to four. it just happened with 48 boys some time ago. are we talking just scale, gender? >> what you are raising, and the question that underlies what you are asking is, is there political will to engage? that is why the social engagement of everyday americans, canadians, australians, europeans, going onto social media using the #bring back our girls has been so powerful because it has indicated that there is an attention to an expectation for action. what does that action look like, to the political question? i don't know what types of resources are under play and i've talked to my colleagues in nigeria who said that frankly there may be things happening they are not revealing.
but we do know there is another side to this. there is a reaction to an extreme hijacking of both faith and the oppression and corruption and poverty. but there is opportunity for us to not only address what is there, but to look at the condition of girls and women and what happens when we are unable to invest in education and resources to support them. tavis: which raises this question, what is it in nigeria or iraq or around the globe, what is it about educating girls that we are so scared of? >> educating girls is the key to stable society. tavis: there are these insurgent groups who want to do anything they can from -- to stop girls from education.
to be part said it, of what is the recruiting tool is marginalization, in literacy, lack of education and economic opportunity. when you educate a girl and you educate a woman and increase her ability to generate an income, influence decisions in her household, learn about her rights, and insist that they are in force, you are transforming a community. is truth about boko haram they are completely outside the teachings of islam. it is completely outside the teaching of islam in nigeria. those voicesng emerge. in islam, the mandate is to be educated. what are we afraid of are what are they afraid of? if you educate girls and women, you create more stable societies. if you're seeking to exploit or destabilize, there is something powerful.
tavis: glad you raised this point about islam. there are some networks that shall remain nameless who are having a field day with this because it's just more fodder for them to push their anti-islamic agenda. what do we say to the american public who see the way that boko , that theysbehaving want to establish their own nationstate, they want to have it governed by sharia law. it paints islam in a way that ought to be untenable, yet there are some people who are really pushing that agenda. >> let me tell you, boko haram is not an islamist organization. have -- youway you don't say that all of christianity is tainted. of old for white ring
-- right now in this country and all around the world, you need to explain who you are, is islam. if you go anywhere in the world, you don't have to explain if you don't belong anywhere. that is unfortunate, but we cannot continue to play along that route. whatve to call boko haram it is. this is mostly a criminal organization that is usually -- using islam to promote whatever their agenda is. there are criminal divisions of christians. orody ever went after them when after christianity because of militants. i'm not saying it is equivalent to boko haram.
this is criminal activity. it's just the way it is, it is a global trend right now that is controlled by global powers. we must continue to defend the argument that this is not about islam or christianity. we are talking about fringe elements who are using all of these groups to do what they want to do. it your sense that the longer this goes on, the less the chances are that these girls will be returned? i think about the plane that went down somewhere, and everybody knew that if we didn't find this thing, sooner or later that black box would stop beeping and increase the risk that plane would never be found, and were still trying to find this plane. i wonder if you think the longer this goes on, does the risk decreased? let me approach it from the angle of the planning. -- of the plane.
resourceshalf the , justing for those girls looking around through binoculars or telescopes into the ocean, if we had them over , we would havest found the girls by now. the main worry that no one is really looking for the girls. >> that goes back to the importance of the point of civil on the keeping attention issue. the accountability not just of everyday individuals but holding our elected leaders who have the ability to ensure that resources are dedicated to the rescue effort, and to the coordination among nations. i think it is the accountability and the public engagement that is very important. we feel that is absolutely essential and i know the civil society groups in nigeria, the women's organizations are organizing. sees: so while some might
this as hoping against hope, i'm not an optimist, but i'm a prisoner of hope. let's assume that everyone these girls into being returned. what happens next? >> i think if these girls are returned, it creates an exciting opportunity for us to maintain attention and look at ways we can strengthen and ensure that there is security for these girls to continue to be educated. one of the consequences of what has happened, and the ability to kidnap on the scale with impunity is that it creates a ripple effect of fear. nigerians have made significant progress in their commitment to educating girls. and educating women. we don't want to see that and the challenge then is how do we prevent, and investing in education, investing in providing women and girls with life skills so they can contribute to the economy
and to their communities makes a difference. tavis: so the girls come back, what happens to boko haram then? >> let me put it this way. if we find the girl soon, and i hope we do, it will fit into the attention span of celebrity activity. to bring back their own country so that boys and girls, women and men, can be safe in our country. if boko haram remains in nigeria abductwill come back and even more girls and kill more boys. they have killed the boys into dormitories in one state. the number of boys combined together is almost 100, and
nobody has talked about that. stopped after not the kidnapping of the girls. yesterday they killed 49 people. they bombed a beer joint in cameroon. nigeria needs to have their country back. supportorld is not nigeria to have a real country, the girls will not have a country to come back to. for comingk you both on. it's a difficult story, but by to have you on. that's our show for tonight. thanks for watching, and as always, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with one of world's great sopranos, renée fleming, about her role in a streetcar named desire. that is next time. we will see you then.
we're taking a roadtrip across the united states, interviewing different people who inspire us. for the next interviews, there's going to be questions with how did you cope with not knowing what's going to happen? i really have no idea about what i want to do with myself. we all have this position in this crazy equation that is life, but you have to pursue your passion. (laughing) oh my! sorry. thatas craig robinson. can i ask you a question? we were wondering if you'd like to sit down with us? state farm has made it possible for this series to be shared on public television stations across the country. helping a nation of young people find their own roads in life. like a good neighbor, state farm is there. roadtrip nation would also like to thank the college board for supporting this series. the college board: connect to college success. roadtrip nation is also made possible by at&t, helping connect students to success